Modern Communications Planning: The Target Audience Section

Continuing our series on modern communications planning, today we discuss the target audience. Or, to whom are you trying to communicate?

In my 27 years working in the communications field, I have found many organizations spent much time talking about how the proverbial “we” were going to get our ideas across to people “we” were hoping will spend time and money with us. In fact, most of the time was spent talking about what “we” want to say, and a smaller percentage of the time was spent talking about who was going to hear it. If this sounds familiar, it is time to reverse that trend.

Including a section that has basic information about your client or customer base, such as top-level demographic data, key market research findings, descriptions of their world, and other information helps keep your decision-making real world and relevant.

First, honestly answer how well you know your audience. You may believe you know them quite well. Sales force feedback, focus groups, surveys, and direct conversations give you good information. But, is it proving to be enough?

In  the book Transformational  Speaking, author Gail Larsen, offers the following four questions to ask yourself about an audience:

  1. Is your audience seeking information?  Is your audience moved by data? Do they just not know much about your topic and they want to know more?
  2. Is your audience seeking insight?  Are they just looking for what to do? Are they looking for someone to lead
    the way?
  3. Is your audience seeking to expand their imagination? Are they seeking to make something new happen?
  4. Is your audience seeking to be illuminated? Are they seeking to be changed at a deep level? Do they want to be moved?

These questions are mostly used before developing a presentation. But by knowing where your audience falls in the above four categories, you may now set the tone of all your communication efforts.

But, then, dig a little deeper before delving into the strategies and tactics portion of your communications planning. Answer the following questions about your prime target (your sweet spot customer):

  1. What are the top 5 things on their minds right now? What is keeping them up at night? (e.g. keeping their jobs, growing their company, completing a project? Something more specific?)
  2. And, what magic wand do they wish they had to resolve their concerns, issues or challenges?
  3. What are 3 things that motivate them? What is most precious to them (e.g. time, money, health/vitality, power, success/admiration, security, comfort, leaving a legacy, making a difference/contribution)?
  4. What tone of voice attracts them? (e.g. humor/entertainment, serious business/security, urgency?)
  5. What was their defining moment or defining experience that led them to possibly needing you and what you have to offer?

Layer the demographic data and market research data on these answers to develop a one page profile of your target audience. Include:

  • Job title/where they fit into the organization
  • Where they get their information
  • Who influences them
  • What they need solved, advanced or changed, and why
  • What are they worried about
  • What messages would likely resonate with them (the tone, word choices, and stories)

You’ll find  that the communications strategies you choose will be (or should be) developed to fit the needs of this profile.

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